Milford St. Patrick's Day Parade is Saturday at 1 p.m.

One of Milford’s biggest events of the year — the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade — takes place this weekend, and is expected to draw some 20,000 people to downtown Milford.

The parade will step off at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 9, leaving the Parson’s Complex and wending its way to the end of the Broad Street green.

There will be high school bands, pipes and drums, floats, Scout troops and this year a green Volkswagen Beetle prepped for the parade.

There will be local service groups, politicians, businesses and more marching through downtown Milford.

Getting decked out in green isn’t saved just for the parade marchers. Typically the audience comes dressed for the occasion, too, wearing Irish sweaters, green coats, green makeup, green hair, jewelry and decorated green hats.

Foran High School student Gina Raucci will serve as this year’s Miss Emerald Isle, and retired fire battalion chief Bill Healey is the grand marshal.

It takes about $20,000 to fund the yearly parade, said organizer Marty Hardiman. Despite the economy, he said he’s been getting donations from local businesses and expected to make this year’s goal.

The parade, he said, “Is the best family oriented parade in the state.”

He and the grand marshal agreed it is also Milford’s official sign of spring.

The rain date for the parade is Saturday, March 16.